Jagannath Temple's Treasury Inspection

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BY: SUN STAFF CORRESPONDENT - 5.4 2018

Sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik creates art on Lord Jagannatha at Puri beach on Tuesday

 Jagannath Temple's Ratna Bhandar inspection to be made amid tight security.

Curiosity among devotees of Lord Jagannatha in Puri reached a crescendo on Tuesday as the Puri district administration fine-tuned all arrangements for inspection of the structural stability of the shrine's Ratna Bhandar (treasury) on Wednesday.

Police finalized a three-layer security arrangement at Jagannath Temple for smooth inspection of Ratna Bhandra. Though the outer chamber of the treasury is opened every year to fetch ornaments for the Deities during annual festivals, the inner treasury was last opened in July 1985 to fetch an ornament for Lord Balabhadra. Jewelleries in the inner treasury are hardly used.

Apprehending possible presence of snakes and other insects in the closed chambers, the Puri district administration has decided to mobilise a medical team with anti-venoms.

"Since the inner chamber remained closed for several years, possibility of the presence of snakes cannot be ruled out. Owing to poor ventilation, the members of the inspection team may face breathing problem. A medical team and two snake charmers will stay guard near Mukti Mandap of the temple. They are not permitted to enter the Ratna Bhandar," a temple official said. Besides, the temple administration plans to mobilise personnel of Odisha fire service and Odisha disaster rapid action force to meet any exigency.

a total of ten persons, including the Puri King's representative and some Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) experts, are authorized to conduct the treasury's inspection. They are scheduled to start the inspection around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, at which time the temple will remain out of bounds for devotees. The temple administration already said that the inspection team will not conduct an inventory of the riches of the Deities. "They will only take stock of the roof, wall and floor. They cannot touch the boxes stashed with ornaments," temple's Chief Administrator Pradeep Jena said.

Puri Superintendent of Police (SP) Sarthak Sarangi said the ten persons will be properly frisked. "We have arranged three-layer security at the temple. Two platoons each will be deployed in and outside the temple. The third layer involved proper frisking of the ten members," said Sarangi. Police will use the latest door frame metal detectors and hand held metal detectors to frisk the inspection team members. "We will check each member twice before entering the Ratna Bhandar and after coming out of it. They have been asked not to wear any ornaments. They will enter the Ratna Bhandar by wearing towels only," Sarangi said.

Temple sources said the Ratna Bhandar, reportedly 60 ft. long and 20 ft. wide, has two chambers—inner and outer. While the outer treasury is opened every year to fetch ornaments for the Deities during annual festivals, the jewellery in the inner treasury is usually not used.

The government is yet to make valuation of the market prices of the ornaments stashed in Ratna Bhandar. Record of Rights (RoR) of Jagannath Temple says the outer treasury has 150 items of gold weighing nearly 612597 Tolas (one Tola=11.6638 grams). The inner treasury has 180 items of jewellery including 74 items of pure gold ornaments, some of which weigh more than 100 Tolas each, and plates of gold, pearls, diamonds, corals and 146 items of silver articles weighing more than 500 Tolas each. However, the temple administration has not assessed the current market prices of the ornaments. Inventory of the Bhandar was made in 1926 and again in 1978.